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Tory senator breaks silence on campaign-finance charges with Twitter tirade Add to ...

1. ‘Convinced of innocence.’ Doug Finley lit up the Twitter universe in a big way Wednesday night, defending Stephen Harper over the so-called in-and-out campaign financing scheme.

The Tory Senator had harsh words for those who suggest Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a hand in the affair

“Anyone who thinks PMSH was that deeply involved in campaign is an idiot. Campaign makes millions of decisions in 35 days. Think,” he said.

It was a remarkable flurry of tweets from Mr. Finley, especially since he is one of two senators charged by Elections Canada with “willfully” exceeding spending limits in the 2006 federal campaign.

He had not commented on the charges since they were made public last Thursday – at least until now.

Intrigued by Layton Iggy on Elxn spending. Would win OTT in any forum,” he also wrote.

The Senator was at the centre of the fierce storm that raged Wednesday in Question Period over the financing scheme. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff went immediately on the attack, accusing the Prime Minister of encouraging his Tories to break the law and defraud Canadian taxpayers. NDP Leader Jack Layton demanded the Prime Minister kick Mr. Finley out of the Conservative caucus.

Mr. Harper remained composed throughout the 45-minute session, playing down any suggestion of wrongdoing. The Tories have described the matter as an accounting dispute.

The Senator joined Twitter last week – just hours before the charges against him became public. A day later, he began a third cycle of three-day chemo therapy treatments for colon cancer, which is why he did not comment initially on the charges.

He made reference to this on Wednesday night, however. “Bad Chemo cycle. Unlike first two. OK now. Elxn Cda stuff no help. Convinced of innocence helps. Also support from friends.”

For someone new to the social-media tool, Mr. Finley appears comfortable defending his Prime Minister and engaging his audience. One of his followers quickly chimed in with support: “The twitter crowd R hated filled Liberals enraged that they don't have power + that Cdns R happy w Harper gov.”

Mr. Finley replied: “ Couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks.”

2. Getting personal. Michael Ignatieff tested out a potential attack line after Question Period on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters, he said the in-and-out election financing scheme would stick to the Tories – and that he will use it to make Stephen Harper’s character a “central issue” in the next campaign.

“I said in the House today that this is all about the Prime Minister’s character,” he said. “This is about his public character. If you’re the kind of guy who will win at any cost, at any price – you’ll say anything about an opponent, you don’t care, you’re prepared to encourage your party to violate election law, to sail close to the wind, you’re prepared to defraud Canadian taxpayers – this is fundamentally an issue about the Prime Minister’s character.

“And if I have to say this a thousand times, we will make this stick.”

3. And then there was one. Canada will play host to the Women’s World Cup of soccer in 2015. Sports minister Gary Lunn is to make the announcement Wednesday morning in the foyer of the House of Commons, where there will be a live feed of the official FIFA decision in Switzerland.

This is a big deal for Canada, which knew it had the tournament locked up after Zimbabwe pulled out of the running this week. In addition, Mr. Lunn has said the presentation he and others made to FIFA president Sepp Blatter recently went really well.

The matches will take place in several venues across Canada, including Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton. The federal government’s cost is $15-million – $5-million to stage the Under-20 World Cup in 2014 as a test event and $10-million for the main event. However, there will be no money for new stadiums, upgrades or renovations.

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